House Democrats to drug stores: Stop selling cigarettes

 

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are urging chain drug stores to stop selling tobacco products in line with a decision by CVS Caremark.

Twelve Democrats made the push Tuesday in a letter to the head of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, a trade group.

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"We believe that cigarettes and other tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered," the lawmakers wrote to CEO Steven Anderson. "By supporting removal of tobacco products from retail pharmacy shelves … your members will send an unequivocal message about the dangers of tobacco use."

CVS, the second-largest U.S. drug store chain, announced in February that it would cease the sale of tobacco products in its stores by October of this year.

The retailer said that while it will forgo roughly $2 billion in revenue per year as a result, selling tobacco products is inconsistent with its mission of providing healthcare.

Since the announcement, advocates, lawmakers and state attorneys general have redoubled pressure on competing chains to follow CVS's lead.

No other major drug store has indicated they will stop selling tobacco products.

Tuesday's effort was led by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Health subcommittee.

Pallone is currently vying to replace Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) as the top Democrat on Energy and Commerce. His opponent, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), also signed Tuesday's letter. Eshoo is the ranking member of the panel's Communications and Technology subcommittee.